The moral argument is rather straightforward, and WLC notes that it has been the most convincing of all the arguments he has developed for the existence of God (though he cites the KCA as his favorite, and I think I have to agree).
We have also seen, in the analogy of the author, how God would be the ground of objective morality, and further, how nothing else could be. Before we depart from the moral argument, let’s consider the analogy a little deeper, and see what might be understood about objective morality.
Namely, we have an author (a unembodied mind, in our thought experiment) telling her story. Since, before the story begins, she is the only thing that CAN be good, then we must say – If anything is good, the author is good.*
This is tricky for us, in our usual way of thinking (in the first draft of this post, I flew by it). That is, we are speaking, in a sense, as outside observers, looking in on this closed system, and declaring that if anything is good, the author must be good. But couldn’t we look in, see the mind of a serial killer, and determine that that author is not good?
Of course we can, but in order to do that, we must be outside observers; that is, within the closed system, if we are to say anything is good, then the serial killer mind must be good. His will then, in the context of the story he tells, is also good – in that closed system.
When we extrapolate this to our world, and God (and when we hear the critics who want to tell us how terrible God must be), we are swallowing up that outside observer status; we’re now inside the closed system. And if we can look and see that serial killing is wrong, it is because we have surmised from our Author that something else is right (namely, preserving life).
So the criticism that God is not good is stripped down to two possibilities: Either the critic does not know what he is talking about (ie. what actually is good), or nothing at all is good, not even God. The criticism falls away, in either case.
Therefore, the author continues to be good as the story begins.
Again, the author makes a decision – an act of the will – to begin a story, and in this sense, to create. And so the question now is, can that decision possibly be “wrong,” morally? Or – given that if anything is good, the author is good – is the decision, of necessity, morally right?
The question is interesting; I want to assert that if we grant that the author is good, then her will must also be good. After all, if an act of her will could be bad, how would that happen? What deficiency of “her” would exist, in that world where nothing but she exists, such that her decision could lack in goodness? Isn’t everything she does – in that closed system – necessarily good, if anything is good?
So she begins her story, and it is necessarily something other than what she is. It has an entirely different substance than her substance, even an entirely different existence than her existence. It is contingent, for one thing – it could have failed to exist, and depends on a necessary reality (the author) for its existence.
Now she might have any purpose at all for telling the story – bear in mind, the reasons may not be the same as our authors, who have audiences of their peers – but suppose her reason is like that often attributed to God: An overflow of creative power and love. (This itself, of course, is figurative language).
And so, her aim in creating is to bring into existence beings like her – that is, made in her image – whom she will love. Of course, there is nothing greater than her, in this system, so there is nothing compelling her to love her creatures. She simply does so, freely, because it is her essence.
As mentioned above, these created things are not the same as her – they are necessarily different. They are created, not creator. Their existence is contingent, not necessary, and has come about because of the free choice of the creator.
The creator, wishing for these beings to share in her existence as much as possible – to their unspeakable glory – gives them free will, and thus the choice to love her. As they do, and the more they do, the closer they draw to her, and thus into union with her existence.
But they can choose not to, and to act this way is to smear and diminish the image of the creator within them. (“Within,” again, being figurative – it is like attempts to “locate” the soul). And so, those acts which bring a person (and others) closer to the creator, which inspire communion with her – these are called “good,” because, again, the creator is good. Those that increase the chasm between a person and the creator (and pull others away with them) are rightly called evil.
It is this dynamic, of communion with God (or we might say such things as “being itself” or “the ground of reality”) and the forces drawing us toward Him and pulling us away, that comprise the phenomenon we sense when we engage our sense of good and evil, of right and wrong. Morality, it seems to me, is the sense of one’s position and velocity relative to God.
*We do flirt here with some Platonic possibilities, which are not entirely friendly to the God of classical Christianity. If that is an unfamiliar notion to some readers, this would simply be the idea that “the good” is an ideal form, actually and eternally existing apart from God, and it is something which would then be applied to actions or entities in the world. For example, if we posited a closed system, we would say that there is both the mind of the author and this form of “the good.” If we remove the author, we still have “the good” existing in that system. If we return the author to the system, we can evaluate and see if “the good” can apply to the author, and to what extent (maybe the author is mostly good, but a little bit bad, too).
**Here we flirt with them some more.